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News Continued


Good News! Florida Stops a Polluter!

Linda Young's announcement of the decision by DEP adminnistrator Michael Sole to uphold the ruling by an administrative law judge to deny a permit by International Paper to pollute Perdido Bay. The full text of the Palm Beach Post editorial follows.

Dear friends of Florida's waters - last week we got exactly what we have been asking for and it was a major victory. You all remember when earlier this year an administrative law judge recommended that International Paper's permit be denied. We asked to you contact Governor Crist and tell him to make DEP do the right thing - and stand by that judge! Many of you did contact the Governor and thank you for taking the time to do that. Whether our requests had anything to do with DEP's final decision or not - last week DEP secretary Mike Sole issued a final order denying IP's permit. This is the first paper mill permit in Florida that has ever been denied after a hearing. Please let Mike Sole know you support his final order. Go to our website for an easy link to him with your message. We have the same judge in our Buckeye case which will likey go to an administrative hearing next year (Buckeye has it on hold right now). There is now hope for a victory with the Buckeye permit challenge - where before, there was little reason to expect justice. Things are getting better, slowly but surely. Let's keep our shoulders to the grindstone for Florida's waters. Thank you again for all your hard work and help with these issues - especially those of you who don't even live near these facilities. Linda

Thank you,
Linda L. Young
Clean Water Network of Florida

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Full text of the Palm Beach Post editorial:


State stops a polluter

Palm Beach Post Editorial

Monday, August 13, 2007

Florida's top environmental regulator has upheld a ruling that makes International Paper stop polluting Perdido Bay near Pensacola. Maybe under Gov. Crist, the Department of Environmental Protection actually will protect the environment.

DEP Secretary Michael Sole retreated a bit from an administrative law judge's findings, but ultimately he denied the world's largest paper company a permit for a 10.7-mile pipe that would dump waste into experimental wetlands for treatment and then into the bay. The plant can't keep operating unless the court stays Mr. Sole's decision.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush's DEP secretary, David Struhs, engineered a $56 million public bailout for International Paper in 2004, then quit to become the firm's vice president for environmental affairs. Mr. Struhs started helping the firm in 2000, after it bought the mill, which has failed to meet water quality standards under several owners since 1989 and dumps millions of gallons of waste into area waterways.

Mr. Struhs crafted a low-interest loan, administered by the DEP, to a utilities authority for a sewage treatment plant and pipeline from the mill. In 2004, when Mr. Struhs left the DEP, the agency approved the firm's plan to pipe 23 million gallons of waste daily to 1,500 acres of wetlands. The mill has been operating since 1941 without significant retrofitting, according to the Stuart law firm of Littman, Sherlock & Heims. Howard Heims represented Friends of Perdido Bay and families who have fought to make the paper company stop fouling the ay.

International Paper, Mr. Sole writes in his final order rejecting the permit, did not provide "reasonable assurances" that the mill's effluent would not harm the wetlands. His decision to back the judge's ruling sets an excellent precedent. Now, Mr. Sole can show that this attitude will be a pattern.

Mr. Sole can reconsider the DEP's support for Buckeye, a paper mill planning a 15-mile pipe to dump waste at the mouth of the Fenhalloway River, near an area where the firm's waste already has created a 10-mile dead zone in a Gulf of Mexico sea grass preserve. He also can reject the request by Georgia Pacific for a 5-mile pipe to the St. Johns River. Environmental ought to mean something again in Florida.

(Howard Heims of the Stuart law firm of Littman, Sherlock & Heims, P.A., represented Petitioners James Lane and the Friends of Perdido Bay organization in an 11-day-long administrative trial conducted during the summer of 2006. Lloyd Brumfield)

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